I am Sua Suluape Angela, recognized worldwide as the first known woman in history to be taught the ancient Samoan art form of Polynesian hand-tap tattoo known as tatau, and to receive the Samoan chief title of Suluape, which was bestowed upon me by Master Tattoo Artist Suluape Petelo. I have been voted Best Tattoo Artist in San Diego multiple times, and in several publications.
I attended a tattoo convention in Tahiti in 2000 and met Suluape Petelo, the best traditional tatau tattoo artist in the world. I asked permission to sit and watch him work. He nodded so I watched, and I was moved. His skill was undeniable. He comes from a true tattooing family that has over 5000 years of history in the art. We became friends, and because of my fascination, I became his assistant whenever we were attending the same conventions.
After a convention in New Zealand, Suluape Petelo approached me, after a period of deep thought on his part. Do you want to learn? he asked. What? I responded, surprised and thinking I hadn't heard him correctly. Do you want to learn? Do you want to be the first woman I teach the hand-tap? he repeated. I looked at him astonished. Why me? I asked. Why not a Polynesian woman? He replied: Because you love everybody, no matter their color, race, sex, or religion. And you cannot taPea (tattoo the Pea) and be a man hater. Your mana (spirit) cannot be angry towards men and change a boy into a man. Of course I said, Yes!
He is a very particular person, and to be chosen by him is an honor. It was history in the making and it has allowed me to become a pioneer in the world of traditional hand-tap tattoo. After I accepted I flew to Western Samoa where I lived, worked, and studied.
There was a request made by Master Suluape Petelo to create stainless steel versions of the traditional Samoan bone tools, a task that had been attempted before by others, without success. It was necessary to modernize the hand-tap tools so they would conform to sterilization procedures, to allow this 5000 year old art form to live on. With the modernization, the primary concerns were having the ability to replicate the exact marks made by the bone tools, and to protect the health and safety of the artist as well as the person receiving the tattoo. The creation of the stainless steel tools has allowed me to practice this ancient art form in the United States, as I would never have been able to use bone tools because of the restrictions of our sterilization codes.
I have been actively tattooing in both the hand-tap and machine styles for over 15 years. In October 2012 I was honored to receive the title of Sua, giving me the blessing to Tatau the Pea and Malu (tattoo the Pea and Malu).
I would be happy to help you create the tattoo of your dreams. Shop phone is 619-299-4868 email for consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org
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